A Stratollite is a large balloon (or ‘high altitude platform’) that sits between the Earth and the high-orbiting satellites, and can remain – more or less – in place over its target audience below.
Tucson-based Stratollites, developed by World View Enterprises (which has a marvellous mission statement: “Sometimes to break new ground, you have to leave it”), can carry a variety of payloads including remote sensing and communication arrays.
The balloon stayed aloft, fully controlled at all times, at an average of 19.5 kms high. On its latest mission, it stayed aloft for a record 32 days and undertook four specific station-kept locations. Suspended beneath the balloon is a service module containing the scientific/comms payload.
Communication connectivity is a core element of the company’s service offering, including supplying rapid-response balloons to disaster areas for internet, troop or rescue communications and support.